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Sidewalks: America's grassroots

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American University

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Sidewalks: America's grassroots

Let's talk about this contentious issue

William Peters

9.12.17

Listen, I’m not trying to be a dick here, and I know when I say that I usually end up being a dick, but whatever. I’ve gotta talk about it.

Sidewalks are a sacred area. Some of the greatest people of all time have walked on sidewalks. Scientists, scholars, civil rights activists, movie stars, and even the great Bill Terrace of "Terrace Dining Room" fame have all used the same trodden path, much like we do.

Nay, used to.

Much like bar soap and marmalade, the millennial generation is desecrating the holy concept of the sidewalk. Back in its heyday, the sidewalk could be used with ease. People knew there were two sides, and they respected that. There was the one side that you walked along, preferably the right side, and the other one you left open for those walking in the opposite direction as you.

This was a respected rule. The great William Shakespeare was once recorded saying:
“Don’t be thine dick who doth walkeths in the center of the sidewalk. Useth thine's common sense, and get your head out of your ye olde ass. Hark! There are two sides, now useth them.”

Wow. Powerful words from a powerful person. In truth, I don’t find it to be that lofty of a concept to grasp. What in God’s name would compel you to think walking in the middle of something is smart? Does it make you feel like you’re walking down a runway or in one of those slow-motion scenes in which you reveal the new “you” after you just underwent an extreme and very problematic physical makeover to catch the attention of your secret crush? You know what I’m talking about. Don’t pretend you don’t. We all do. Mine’s set to London Bridge by Fergie. Regardless, you're no Fergie. You look foolish.

And while we’re on the topic, let’s talk about the jackwagons who look down and use their phone while walking. The ones who move at a glacial pace. You do know your campus is a nationally recognized arboretum, right? You literally pay this school for them to make it look nice but instead you’re watching another Tasty video on Facebook. Hey, you know what else can stimulate the mind? Anything from this assorted list:

  • Eye contact
  • Trees
  • Youths playing quad sports
  • Sad republicans
  • A white male in salmon shorts
  • Signs for free food
  • Walking with your head up
  • Puppies
  • Those tapestries you see being sold on the quad that you always think about buying before remembering they're like $30 and your last bank statement was just a giant frowny face and the poop emoji.

There is a 99.9% chance that one of these things is in your peripheral vision at any given moment while walking across campus, yet you continue to be the worst person ever by just looking down and being a dunce. I’m not trying to be your grandparent here, but there is indeed more to life than your screen. Your phone isn’t going where if you don’t look at it, but your ass might get somewhere a little more efficiently if you look up.

Perhaps I’m being ridiculous again (I am most absolutely being ridiculous again. I wrote most of this while under the side effects of cold medicine), but my gripes, unlike my historically fictitious quotes, come from a place of rationality.

Don’t be a Silly Billy (cold medicine) when walking on the sidewalks. Just use common sense! Remember many people use them, not just you. Don’t be afraid to wave to someone, or enjoy the soon-to-be changing leaves on the trees, or admire a puppy from afar. Who knows, you might just like what you see.

I'll leave you with a quote, one of my favorites, actually, from Abraham Lincoln. It goes:

“Roses are red, Violets are blue. I didn't die for you to be a dick on the sidewalk.”